E3 2011: Far Cry 3 first-look preview

Character study or cinematic shooter? Yes

Far Cry 3 is one of the true surprises of E3 2011, not just because we weren't counting on it amidst Ubisoft's already-strong show lineup, but more notably because of how frankly amazing the game looks at this stage. The lush jungle setting seen in the hands-off demo pulverized our eyes with incredible detail and diversity, but Far Cry 3 grabbed us even harder with a compelling mix of character interactions and intense, fast-paced violence.

Seemingly unrelated to previous entries, Far Cry 3 introduces players to Jason Brody, a man who finds himself on a mysterious island where his girlfriend is missing and everyone else is completely bananas. We learn this quite quickly as the Mohawk-adorned man with the red tank top and piercing eyes explains the meaning of insanity ("doing the exact same thing over and over again expecting something to change," he says) while dropping expletives and becoming noticeably agitated. He's angry, then immediately he's calm; he claims he "killed you once" and he's "not fucking crazy." And then he starts in on his whole insanity definition again. Clearly something is up; that your character is bound by rope and tied to a cinder block doesn't help matters one bit.

The situation doesn't improve when he kicks the block over the cliff, sending the player spiraling several stories into the water below. Struggling mightily and emerging intact, Brody's survival instincts apparently emerge with a razor-sharp edge. Hiding behind a waterfall, he lashes out at a nearby guard for a silent takedown. Back on dry land, he quickly runs up behind another soldier and steals the knife from his holster, slashing at the foe before tossing the blade into the noggin of a seated ally. Brody's intense streak continues near the end of the demo as he rushes into a grounded helicopter and grabs the pilot's pistol, shoving it into his face and yelling to take off immediately.

The pilot complies, but the chopper is no match for bazooka fire from the ground and it slams back to earth. Awakening in the wreckage, Brody looks toward his gun outside the helicopter as an unknown presence approaches. The gun is kicked aside and a familiar sight emerges: it's Voss, the crazy dude from earlier. And sure enough, he's still talking about the definition of insanity – just in time for the logo to pop up and the demo to end on a psychologically terrifying note.

What remains incredibly unclear from the demo is how exactly the aforementioned action sequences play out in the controls – it's a first-person shooter with some kind of kill-based experience system (which seems to award more points for more complex or difficult takedowns), but we're curious to see how scripted or easy-to-execute some of those cinematic happenings really are. That said, the game looks pretty fantastic in demo form, and the psychotic inhabitants make it seem like Far Cry 3 will be much more than a straight-up run-and-gun island adventure.

Jun 9, 2011

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